Steven Aftergood directs the FAS Project on Government Secrecy. The Project works to reduce the scope of national security secrecy and to promote public access to government information.
He writes Secrecy News, which reports on new developments in secrecy policy and provides direct access to significant official records that are otherwise unavailable or hard to find.
In 1997, Mr. Aftergood was the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency which led to the declassification and publication of the total intelligence budget for the first time in fifty years ($26.6 billion in FY 1997). In 2006, he won a FOIA lawsuit against the National Reconnaissance Office for release of unclassified budget records.
Mr. Aftergood is an electrical engineer by training (B.Sc., UCLA, 1977). He joined the FAS staff in 1989. From 1992-1998, he served on the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council.
His work on challenging government secrecy has been recognized with the Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the James Madison Award from the American Library Association, the Public Access to Government Information Award from the American Association of Law Libraries, and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award from the Playboy Foundation.
Gary D. Bass became the Executive Director of the Bauman Foundation in July, 2011. In 1983, he founded OMB Watch, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization promoting greater government accountability and transparency and increased citizen participation in public policy decisions, and directed it until moving to the Bauman Foundation. In 2016, OMB Watch folded into the Project On Government Oversight, another national nonprofit organization.
An expert on federal budgetary, program management, regulatory and information policy issues, Gary has published extensively, testified before Congress, appeared on national television and presented to groups across the country. Gary has led many advocacy campaigns—often in coalition with local, state and national groups—in pursuit of a government that promotes social justice and responds to community needs. He led OMB Watch and broad coalitions in successfully stopping proposals that would have undermined government’s role is serving people in need: a “no money, no mandates” measure that would have resulted in state and local governments being exempted from complying with federal laws; a constitutional amendment to balance the U.S. budget that would have seriously harmed human service delivery; a variety of regulatory provisions that would have undermined health, safety and environmental protections; proposals to eliminate the estate tax on wealthy individuals; and various efforts to silence the advocacy voice of charities across the country.
He has been a strong advocate for strengthening government transparency to empower citizens and community groups to challenge unchecked institutional power. In 1989, with support from the Bauman Foundation, Gary created RTK NET, (the Right-to-Know Network), a searchable website that provides information about toxic chemicals being released to the air, water, and land. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he spoke out against the erosion of the public’s right to know and helped form a powerful coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org, that includes journalists and advocates who advocate for more democracy and less secrecy. In 2006, he successfully championed passage of a law, co-sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn and Barack Obama, which required a searchable website of government spending. Uncertain that the bill would become law, OMB Watch built FedSpending.org, which ultimately became USAspending.gov, the website required by the law. He also led a “transpartisan” effort to present recommendations to the incoming Obama administration for improving government openness, which senior White House aides called a “blueprint” for the Obama administration.
At the Bauman Foundation, he remains active, both as a grantmaker and advocate, in efforts to stop the assault on federal regulations, promote government transparency to strengthen accountability, address economic inequality, and encourage civic participation for a stronger democracy. Looking to 2020, he has placed a priority on a full and accurate census and redistricting reforms.
He has received numerous awards, including being selected as one of the NonProfit Times Power and Influence Top 50 11 times, between 1999-2008 and again in 2010; and in 2011 he received the Chairperson’s Award from the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities for his leadership and dedication in national public policy. He has been inducted into the FOIA Hall of Fame and in 2014, he was named to the Fed 100, a group of people who have significantly influenced government operations.
In addition to his role at the Bauman Foundation, Gary is an affiliated professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy where he teaches about nonprofit advocacy and social change. He has served on numerous boards and has been an advisor to many organizations. He is currently on the boards of The Arc, Economic Policy Institute, and OpenTheGovernment.org, and is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and a fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration.
Prior to founding OMB Watch, Gary was co-director of the Human Services Information Center with Jule Sugarman, the “father” of Head Start; director of liaison for the International Year of Disabled Persons; worked as a consultant on several projects in special education and the mental health of children and youth, most notably the preparation of the first annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142), now called the Individuals with Disability Education Act; and served as special assistant to former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Wilbur Cohen, then chair of the Michigan Governor’s Task Force on the Investigation and Prevention of Abuse in Residential Institutions.
Gary received a combined doctorate in psychology and education from the University of Michigan, along with the University’s highest award for graduate student teaching and several awards for academic excellence.
Thomas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive won U.S. journalism’s George Polk Award in April 2000 for “piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all.” The Los Angeles Times (16 January 2001) described the Archive as “the world’s largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents.” Blanton served as the Archive’s first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, became Deputy Director in 1989, and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota; and among many hundreds subsequently, he filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North’s Iran-contra diaries in 1990.
His books include Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2010), co-authored with Svetlana Savranskaya and Vladislav Zubok, which won the Arthur S. Link-Warren F. Kuehl Prize for Documentary Editing of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. His book White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy (New York: The New Press, 1995, 254 pp. + computer disk), was described by The New York Times as “a stream of insights into past American policy, spiced with depictions of White House officials in poses they would never adopt for a formal portrait.” He co-authored The Chronology (New York: Warner Books, 1987, 687 pp.) on the Iran-contra affair, and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU’s authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws, and to the Brookings Institution study Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1998, 680 pp.). His latest book is The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: The Conversations that Ended the Cold War (Budapest: CEU Press, 2016), also with Svetlana Savranskaya. His articles have appeared in The International Herald-Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Slate, the Wilson Quarterly, and many other publications.
A graduate of Harvard University, where he was an editor of the independent university daily newspaper The Harvard Crimson, he won Harvard’s 1979 Newcomen Prize in history. He also received the 1996 American Library Association James Madison Award Citation for “defending the public’s right to know.” He is a founding editorial board member of freedominfo.org, the virtual network of international freedom of information advocates; and serves on the editorial board of H-DIPLO, the diplomatic history electronic bulletin board, among other professional activities.
Danielle Brian is the Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). Under her leadership, the organization has grown from two employees and a budget in the thousands of dollars in 1993 to an organization with over forty staff and a budget of six million.
POGO is a nonpartisan independent government watchdog whose investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, and ethical federal government.
Ms. Brian and her staff frequently testify before Congress, and have done so eighteen times since 2015.
In the past decade, POGO’s work has resulted in:
POGO’s investigative work under her stewardship has received journalism awards such as the Sigma Delta Chi award, the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Journalism Award, the Dateline Award, and others. POGO has received the highest reviews for organizational and financial performance from the three largest charity evaluators in the country: Charity Navigator, Better Business Bureau, and Greatnonprofits.org.
Ms. Brian is a member of the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, has been ranked three times by Ethisphere magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in business ethics, and received the Smith College Medal. Danielle received her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Smith College, and her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Kevin joined R Street in October 2014 from the Congressional Research Service, where he served as analyst and research manager. Earlier in his career, he was lecturer in policy and public administration at New York University and Metropolitan College of New York.
Kevin is the author of three books: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education, published in 2005; Whiskey: A Global History, published in 2010; and Moonshine: A Global History, published in 2017.
He has been a Presidential Management Fellow and won the Academy of Wine Communications’ wine writer award.
Kevin received his doctorate in politics from New York University and his bachelor’s from Ohio State University.
Conrad Martin serves as the Executive Director of the Fund for Constitutional Government. Additionally, Mr. Martin is the Executive Director of the Stewart R. Mott Foundation and chairs the Board of Directors of HALT — Americans for Legal Reform. Mr. Martin also serves on the boards of the Center for International Policy, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the American Progressive Caucus Foundation. Mr. Martin served in the Peace Corps from 1981 to 1983 as a Forage Agronomist on the island of Barbados. He is a graduate of Utah State University, where he studied Agronomy and International Agricultural Development with a focus in Agricultural Economics. Born in Mexico, Mr. Martin is fluent in conversational Spanish and has traveled widely in South America, Central America, Europe and the Near East.
Hina Shamsi (@HinaShamsi) is the director of the ACLU National Security Project, which is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights. She has litigated cases upholding the freedoms of speech and association, and challenging targeted killing, torture, unlawful detention, and post-9/11 discrimination against racial and religious minorities.
Her work includes a focus on the intersection of national security and counterterrorism policies with international human rights and humanitarian law. She previously worked as a staff attorney in the ACLU National Security Project and was the acting director of Human Rights First’s Law & Security Program. She also served as senior advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions.
Hina appears regularly in the media and has been quoted as a national security expert by numerous outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, and Reuters, and has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, NPR, ABC News, and the BBC. She is the author and coauthor of publications on targeted killing, torture, and extraordinary rendition, and has monitored and reported on the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. She is also a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a course in international human rights. Hina is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Northwestern University School of Law.
Thomas M. Susman became the Director of the Governmental Affairs Office of the American Bar Association in May 2008. The Governmental Affairs Office serves as the focal point for the Association’s advocacy efforts before Congress, the Executive Branch, and other governmental entities on diverse issues of importance to the legal profession.
Prior to joining the ABA in 2008, he was a partner in the Washington Office of Ropes & Gray LLP for 27 years. There his work included counseling, litigation, and lobbying on a wide range of regulatory, antitrust, lobbying, ethics, and information law issues. He handled legislative matters on behalf of both large and small clients – businesses, trade associations, and nonprofit organizations – in a variety of industries. He was active in seeking enactment of legislation, in obtaining appropriations for specific projects, in blocking or amending legislative proposals, and in counseling targets of congressional investigations.
Before joining Ropes & Gray, Tom served on Capitol Hill for 12 years. He was Chief Counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure and General Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee and to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to that, he served in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice after clerking for Judge John Minor Wisdom on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
He is a nationally recognized expert on lobbying, freedom of information, and administrative law. He co-edits the ABA’s Lobbying Manual; served as an adjunct professor on lobbying at The American University’s Washington College of Law; and for over two decades has chaired the Ethics Committee of the professional association for federal lobbyists. His most recent articles on the subject address lobbying reform, reciprocity, contingent fee lobbying, and the proper role of campaign contributions in lobbying. He has also written, taught, and lectured on transparency and access to government information; he received the American Library Association’s “Champion of Public Access” award and the Collaboration on Government Secrecy’s “Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend” award, is a member of the Freedom Forum’s FOI Hall of Fame. He is also Founding President of the D.C. Open Government Coalition and co-author of a portfolio on protecting and obtaining business information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Before joining the ABA, Tom had chaired its Administrative Law Section and served in the ABA’s House of Delegates and on its Board of Governors. He is a member of the American Law Institute, was Chairman of the National Judicial College Board, and was president of the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation. He is a graduate of Yale University and received his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Texas Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. In 2011 he was named Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Texas Law School.
Anne Weismann serves as CREW’s Chief FOIA Counsel. Prior to rejoining CREW, Anne was Executive Director of Campaign for Accountability and before that served as CREW’s Chief Counsel. Her prior experience also includes over 21 years at the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. Anne received her J.D. from George Washington University and her B.A. from Brown University.
John Wonderlich is the Executive Director for the Sunlight Foundation and one of the nation’s foremost advocates for open government. John leads Sunlight’s effort to change government at every level, by opening up key data sources and information to make government more accountable to citizens. He is a global authority on transparency policy, from legislation and accountability in Congress to ethics and information policy in the executive branch. John has spoken internationally on technology and transparency and has testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. He has appeared on NPR, Fox News and C-SPAN, and his expertise has been cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other media outlets. He is a graduate of Penn State University and resides in the District of Columbia.